Jim Armitage: If G4S is lucky, tagging payout could be the end of an extended nightmare

Outlook G4S's share price should have bounced back more than it did.

Having dropped an opening bell clanger yesterday morning with the announcement of a £170m loss, G4S went on after lunch to announce a deal with the Ministry of Justice to compensate us taxpayers for security tagging dead people (or at least, billing us for tagging them).

The compo number was big – £108.9m, compared with Serco's £68.5m bill for similar offences last year. Perhaps that scared investors, explaining the shares finishing down 5%. But the positive significance was bigger than the market credited.

Barring yet another scandal, this could be a turning point for Britain's least popular company. For Serco, a similar settlement paved the way for it to come off the state contracts blacklist, allowing it to bid for new tenders. There is little reason to think G4S can't go down the same route.

Sure, there are still risks. G4S has to convince the Cabinet Office that it's carried out the Clockwork Orange "corporate renewal" process like Serco did. Criminal investigations are still ongoing into the tagging and court prisoner escort contracts, and there's always the chance that another huge scandal will emerge in another corner of this vast empire.

However, given that the Serious Fraud Office does not have the most convincing record of prosecuting big businesses, and considering the difficulty of obtaining a criminal level of proof in any alleged white-collar crime, one has to wonder how likely a conviction really is.

Labour says the Government must not allow G4S to bid on any more UK state contracts until the SFO probe is complete. With an election looming, those calls may become more shrill. Neither G4S nor Serco will get a look in for the forthcoming probation service privatisation - that would show unseemly haste - but that is only one, albeit extremely juicy, set of tenders.

Like it or not, and in most cases, we should not, outsourcing of public sector work is only ever going to increase. G4S won plenty of contracts under both the Labour and Coalition governments. It will soon be doing so again. Probation doesn't last forever.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Guru Careers: Software Engineer / Software Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software Engineer / Softw...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before